There are some horrible stories of animal abuse out there, but the worst ones are arguably when people treat living things like objects. In this case, for instance, a shelter worker arrived at her volunteer job one morning to find that the trash bag on the doorstep didn’t contain a donated pet carrier – but an actual pet.
Melissa Lawlor normally cleans up and feeds the animals at Michigan’s Woodhaven/Trenton Animal Shelter. And, on this warm Sunday morning in June 2016, it seemed like her day was going to be just like any other. But then she received the shock of her life when she saw what was waiting on the shelter’s doorstep.
“It looked like a donation bag,” Lawlor told Fox News. “When I got closer, I noticed the dog was in there, whimpering. It was very hot, humid… and it was tied in a garbage bag – tight – and I had to rip it open.”
when Lawlor was finally able to free the dog from it’s suffocating trap, the volunteer was further appalled by just how badly the poor dog had been treated. From what she could tell, the puppy was an injured and maltreated Shih Tzu/Yorkshire terrier mix.
Moreover, not only had the terrified puppy been tied up in a plastic bag on a day where temperatures would approach 90 degrees, but she also had difficulty moving her hind leg. Of course, Lawlor called animal control and the police immediately.
Sergeant Frank Zdankiewicz of Woodhaven Police told The Detroit News, “At the time, the dog’s hair was very matted; she did have fleas and an injured rear leg, possibly broken.” Additionally, the abandoned puppy had sores all over her body, according to the animal control officer who received the call.
In what might have been an effort to bring some levity to the sad scene, Lawlor named the little dog Gladys after the brand name of the garbage bag in which she was trapped. Lawlor then sent her off to the veterinarian for treatment. Meanwhile, the police began looking at security footage to see if they could identify Gladys’ abuser.
In fact, surveillance cameras had recorded the moment Gladys was dropped off. Unfortunately, though, the images weren’t clear enough to confirm an identity. Still, the police were able to determine that the possible perpetrator was a woman who drove a three- to six-year-old Lexus RX 350.
In the security video, the woman can be seen taking Gladys’ pet carrier, already wrapped in its plastic trash bag, out of the car’s passenger seat. She then drops the poor pooch off on the shelter’s doorstep and hurries back to shut the car door, before driving off, seemingly without giving the dog a second glance.
Gladys was unceremoniously abandoned at 7:20 a.m. on June 26, 2016, when temperatures were already at least in the high 60s. Luckily, Lawlor arrived at 8:00 a.m. before the day’s scorching heat really kicked in. Otherwise, it could have been a fatal day for Gladys.
“They just don’t understand what could happen,” Woodhaven Animal Control’s Laura Schiller told Fox News. “What if we didn’t come in at 8 o’clock? What if the dog ended up being out all day long in that heat in that garbage bag? This could have been a really sad, tragic story.”
Lawlor was just thankful that she got there in time for Gladys, since on most days she works at the shelter in the afternoon. “I’m so glad I came in to check on them bright and early,” she told Fox. “If I [hadn’t] come in until 2:00 p.m. that dog would have died.”
Although they have been trying to track down the woman for questioning, the Woodhaven police weren’t able to discover her identity and so have reached out to the public for help. Of course, law enforcement isn’t the only one on the case; an animal rights organization has offered an extra incentive to assist in the hunt.
Once the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) learned of the story, it also offered a $5,000 reward for anyone who can help find the dog’s previous owner. “It took a dangerous lack of empathy for someone to lock a dog in a cage wrapped in plastic,” PETA’s vice president Colleen O’Brien said.
Woodhaven Animal Control’s Laura Schaller further reminded everyone that the woman in the video may not necessarily be Gladys’ owner. Yes, it’s possible that the woman may have just found the dog and dropped her off at the shelter. But the dog clearly needed help, and she shouldn’t have just been left to suffer in a bag-wrapped cage either way.
“There is a much better way – just show up when animal shelter people are here,” Lt. Fraczek told Fox News. “I just don’t understand why you would drop a dog off when you can put it on the internet and within seconds someone would take the dog.”
Furthermore, it’s especially important to track down the woman because the abandonment is very similar to a dog rescue that took place the previous year in front of a Woodhaven Walmart. As of now, police are unsure if the incident is related or if it’s just a coincidence.
Thankfully for Gladys, a local vet treated her injuries, and the dog has since made a full recovery. In fact, after just a month spent at the Last Day Dog Rescue waiting for adoption, Gladys was snapped up by a loving owner.
At first, Gladys’ new mommy, Lynn Lorenzetti, was unaware of the pup’s past. Then, upon learning about the tragic story, Lorenzetti knew she just had to take the poor pooch home. “I thought: ‘Oh, my goodness; I have to have her,’” she told The News-Herald.
“[Gladys] is so excited about life, so happy, her tail is wagging all of the time; I think she knows she hit the jackpot. She’s getting so much attention!” Although her previous owner is still unaccounted for, Gladys now lives her dream life with a loving human in Downriver Pleasant Ridge where she is having a lifestyle of “champagne wishes and caviar dreams.”